LONDON — A 193 million-pound ($305.1 million) extension to a program to provide helicopter flying training for the British military has been signed by FB Heliservices and the Ministry of Defence.
The deal to extend FB Heliservices’ running of the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) contract will see the Cobham-Bristow Helicopters joint venture run the training program for four years starting April 1, with two one-year extensions possible.
The company has been providing training at the Royal Air Force base at Shawbury, and two other sites, for 15 years.
The existing AS350BB Squirrel and Griffon Bell 412EP helicopters used for crew training are to be upgraded as part of the deal.
Under present plans, helicopter training will eventually become part of the tri-service Military Flying Training System (MFTS) program being run by Ascent Flying Training, the Lockheed Martin/Babcock joint venture.
An Ascent spokesman said, “The Shawbury extension is in line with the timetable for the introduction of the new rotary wing provision. The contract extension has been planned for some time and takes DHFS through from April 2012 to April 2016, plus two one-year extensions. The contract term has been aligned with the planned introduction into service of UKMFTS, with the extension periods giving a degree of flexibility to cope with any changes to the timetable required by the MoD.”
The contract was announced just ahead of Cobham unveiling preliminary results for 2011, which saw its order book rise by 14 percent to 2.04 billion pounds compared with the previous year, partly on the back of what the company said was a strong performance in the civil air and non-U.S. defense and security markets.
Total revenues were down 3 percent to 1.85 billion pounds. Cobham divested itself of U.S. company Analytical Solutions in November.
The British-based tier-three supplier said defense sales in its core U.S. market, which account for 44 percent of core revenues, remain subject to “significant uncertainty” due to budget restrictions. But it said faster-growing opportunities in defense markets such as the Middle East, Brazil and Asia had good potential to offset cuts in Europe and America.